Like many other players on the bubble, kicker Kai Forbath wasn’t sure what to expect Saturday.
“I didn’t [know] until I walked in the door,” he said. “They let me down the stairs.”
Down the stairs at Redskins Park is where the locker room is located. If you make it that far on cut down day, that means you’re one of the 53.
Forbath, obviously, was relieved. But he also believes he’s better off for having battled rookie Zach Hocker throughout the offseason and preseason.
“Zach was a great kicker,” Forbath said. “He was great competition. He definitely made me work. I just went out there and made kicks like I’m here to do."
He added: “When you have a good kicker in here pushing you, it definitely adds a little motivation to focus in on every single kick. It brought out the best in both of us. Fortunately, my experience and making the kicks when it came down to it.”
Forbath finished the preseason strong, connecting on three consecutive final field goals, including a 45-yarder in Tampa. But that’s not how it began. Against the Patriots, Forbath missed a field and shanked kickoff.
“I was hoping they weren’t going to do anything drastic after one game,” Forbath said. “It made me work harder. These last three weeks [I’ve been] really focused. I feel like I’m in a good spot going into the season.”
Hocker, meantime, was 2 of 3 on field goals. His miss was from 39 yards out against the Buccaneers.
Forbath, on the other hand, felt confident as he left Tampa.
“Felt pretty good,” he said. “I always have to keep it high, though. The second you start doubting to yourself and worrying about missing or your job, that’s when things go downhill. So, I go out there like I’ve always done—that I’m going to make every single kick.”
Jay Gruden said the competition was a fair one.
“It’s Kai’s job,” Gruden said. “We drafted a kid and really it was a fair competition. They had an equal number of kicks, different holders. In order to beat the champion, you’ve got to outkick him. Quite frankly, Kai did a nice job. His percentage was higher in all of the kicks out here. And kickoffs were close enough that there wasn’t a drastic difference.”
Punter Tress Way, who beat out Robert Malone, will be Forbath’s holder on Sunday.
“We worked together a little bit last week and a little bit today,” he said. “No worries there.”